Director: Shivam Nair
Writer: Shivam Nair, Neeraj Pandey
Stars: Akshay Kumar, Tapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee
Runtime: 2h 27min
Released: 31 March 2017
Storyline: The surprise package of Baby, Taapsee Pannu, kicking some serious butt, Akshay Kumar’s one-liners and lots of thrills – Naam Shabana looks full of crowd-pleasers on the surface, and if in doubt, there’s always Bharat Mata Ki Jai. The problem is that the trailer gave it all away, which, by default, makes the first half of Naam Shabana a drag.
Shabana (Taapsee) is a reserved second year B.Com student whose life revolves around Kudo training and her widowed mother. Her classmate Jai (Taher Mithaiwala) is smitten by her, but is only stuck with ferrying her back-and-forth from college, because she does not entertain his declarations of love. When they finally go on a date, she opens up about her dark past and finally reciprocates his feelings. But their yet-to-bloom romance is cut short when, on their way home, they get pursued by eve-teasers and a tragedy follows.
From this point, the making of Shabana, the lethal spy, starts. “Females are born with an extra strain in their DNA. Mardon ko gadgets ki zaroorat padti hai, auratein pre-configured aati hai,” Manoj Bajpayee’s character says when Shabana asks him why the agency chose her out of the crores of people. You don’t know whether to laugh.
But laughs there are, in the form of Baby nostalgia. Akshay’s “conference” moment and “mantriji toh aaj bahut busy hai” make a comeback in Naam Shabana. There is also a subtle dig at quintessential action sequences where the hero and the villain rip off their shirts and have a fist fight (think Dabangg), which elicits some chuckles.
The hunky antagonist Prithviraj Sukumaran is as dangerous as he is handsome. But for reasons best known to the makers, he divulges key information about himself after years of painstakingly (quite literally, as you’ll find out) staying under the radar. And it is never quite explained why a rookie like Shabana must take him out, when one of their best, Akshay, just sits and twiddles his thumbs. (Note that the baddie has already eliminated five seasoned agents who went to apprehend him.)